Francesco Caputo bagged a brace and was only denied a hat-trick by the upright, as Sassuolo flattened SPAL 3-0.
The Neroverdi were without Marlon, Rogerio, Medhi Bourabia and Filip Djuricic for this Emilia-Romagna Derby. Mohamed Fares remained on the treatment table, but Gabriel Strefezza was preferred to Igor on the left flank after their comeback to beat Lazio 2-1.
Ciccio Caputo’s volley at the back post was blocked by Simone Missiroli for a corner, but SPAL lost Marco D’Alessandro to a sprained knee.
Moments later, Sassuolo took the lead with a classic counter-attack. Gregoire Defrel drew two defenders towards him, only to roll it back across for Caputo’s snooker shot into the far bottom corner.
Andrea Petagna had penalty appeals waved away for a Federico Peluso challenge, but the Neroverdi almost made it 2-0 when Caputo pulled back for Domenico Berardi to prod inches wide of the near post from six yards.
SPAL struggled to create chances and Sassuolo doubled their lead in first half stoppages with a great strike. Berardi chested down a floated Alfred Duncan pass over the top and Caputo smashed the half-volley into the top corner from the edge of the box.
Sassuolo had the ball in the net again after the restart, as Etrit Berisha rushed out to challenge Berardi one-on-one and Duncan turned in the rebound, but the offside flag was up. However, after several minutes of waiting for the VAR check, news came through that the goal had been given for 3-0.
Caputo nearly had a hat-trick moments later, his glancing header bouncing off the upright, then turning another attempt just wide.
When SPAL did have a great scoring opportunity, they were denied even a consolation goal by Andrea Consigli’s acrobatic save from point-blank range on Alessandro Murgia.
There was more good news for Sassuolo, who welcomed back captain Francesco Magnanelli after several months out with a serious knee injury.
SPAL had the ball in the net at the 88th minute with Murgia, but Petagna was offside when pulling back the assist. It took five minutes for the VAR check to confirm the offside, much to the annoyance of players, Coaches, referee and above all the crowd, as it led to 10 minutes of stoppages.
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